Just the Facts:
Game Time: 8:00 PM
TV Broadcast: NBCSN, TVAS
Radio Broadcast: 98.5 The Sports Hub, 97.5 FM The Fanatic
Rival SB Nation Site: Broad Street Hockey
Season Record: Bruins 21-15-5, 47 points | Flyers 18-15-7, 43 points
Happy half-way point! While #RivalryNight may not hold much truth more weeks than not—see January 20th’s showdown between the arch enemy Minnesota Wild and Anaheim Ducks—it does host a game tonight between two teams with a long history. This is the 2nd of three meetings between the Big Bad Bruins and the Broad Street Bullies this season, and the first since October.
The Bruins will face Philadelphia for the second time this season during a slump. Last go-round, they were 2-3-0 without a win at home, facing a Flyers team that hadn’t won on the road yet, and something had to give. That something was a Claude Giroux goal in the Bruins’ first 3-on-3 overtime. This time, Boston is in the midst of a tough stretch that has them 3-6-1 in their last ten games, and as a result barely holding onto a playoff spot.
The Bruins haven’t been able to capitalize on the mediocre play of their divisional foes in Montreal and Detroit, sitting behind the 2nd and 3rd seeds by two and four points respectively. Leaving points on the table at this point is a tough pill to swallow when there are just five points separating the 7th and 13th team in the conference. And with their recent trod through molasses, the team is now the 2nd Wild Card behind Tampa Bay, and on pace for just 94 points, two points fewer than last season.
That’s not to say that there haven’t been bright spots, however. Without David Krejci in the lineup, the shuffling by Claude Julien has led to guys taking advantage of opportunities. Ryan Spooner has 7 points (1G, 6A) in his last six games as the 2nd line centre, and is on pace for nearly 60 points in his first full season. Good ol’ Dawchestah kehd Jimmy Hayes has been heating up a little as well, with 5 goals in his last six games, putting him on track for 20 on the year. David Pastrnak also scoring in his first game back in over two months was also a plus, as the team desperately needs his offense to return, having only scored more than two goals once in their last five games.
The Flyers have been heating up in 2016, going 6-3-1 in their last ten, and currently having won three straight. The real emergence for the team though has been their offense. Philadelphia currently sits at 29th in the league in Goals For with only 91—only Anaheim is lower, at an atrocious 78.
But since the turn of the new year, Philly has score 4 goals or more in three of their four games played. And the odd part of it all is that in that stretch, Claude Giroux and Jakub Voracek have combined for 0 goals and just 2 assists.
What is really carrying Philadelphia through the dogs days of the NHL season has been their 2nd line. While Giroux has struggled recently in a seemingly disappointing season, Brayden Schenn has 6 points in his last four games, and Sean Couturier has 3 goals and 5 points in that same span. With a struggling top line, and a bottom six that skates R.J. Umberger and Ryan White, Couturier and Schenn have been putting the team on their back to keep them in the hunt in a very contested and congested Metropolitan division.
In goal, it’s really a crap-shoot with the Flyers (isn't it always?). Steve Mason is technically the starter, despite the fact that Michael Neuvirth’s current numbers would have him in Vezina contention if he’d been playing more. That said, Mason will likely get the start, as Neuvirth’s record against Boston—mostly with a hapless defense in Buffalo—is not very good, and Mason has won his only battle against the Bruins thus far. Whichever netminder they choose, they’ll have a tough battle on the opposite end, since Tuukka Rask is 9-1-2 in his regular season career against Philly.
Brad Marchand being a goddamn hero. Tying it with 15 seconds left in the 3rd, and winning it in overtime, the Bruins complete the season series sweep in 2015.
Fancy Stats from Last Game
Lots of chances, but no puck luck against the Rangers on Monday night.